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Plastic surgery helped murder suspect Kaitlin Armstrong stay on the run

Capturing Moriah Wilson’s Killer
Capturing Moriah Wilson’s Killer 42:02

Before Kaitlin Armstrong was found guilty of killing professional gravel cyclist Anna Moriah "Mo" Wilson, she was on the run in Costa Rica from the murder charge.

A few days after Wilson was murdered on May 11, 2022, a warrant was issued for Armstrong. She had become a suspect because her Jeep was seen on security cameras shortly before Wilson was murdered. She had also been described as being angry over a past relationship her boyfriend Colin Strickland had with Wilson. But when investigators went to look for her, she was nowhere to be found. The Lone Star Fugitive Task Force got the job of tracking her down. They suspected Armstrong had flown to Costa Rica on May 18, 2022. There, she tried to hide her identity by using other names —  Beth and Ari — and she cut and dyed her hair.

Two Deputy U.S. Marshals, part of the task force, headed to Costa Rica to find her. "48 Hours" contributor Jonathan Vigliotti has the first interview with members of the task force in "Capturing Moriah Wilson's Killer," now streaming on Paramount +.

Lone Star Fugitive Task Force
"48 Hours" contributor Jonathan Vigliotti, center, with members of the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force. From left, Deputy U.S. Marshal Emir Perez, Deputy U.S.Marshal Damien Fernandez, Vigliotti, Austin Police Officer Jonathan Riley and Austin Police Officer Marc McLeod. CBS News

Deputy Marshals Emir Perez and Damien Fernandez landed in San José, Costa Rica, on June 20, 2022. They quickly moved to the beach town of Jacó, looking for Armstrong, but they did not find her. From there, a tip led them to Santa Teresa, another beach town popular among surfers and yoga enthusiasts.

The Marshals made it to Santa Teresa at night on June 22, 2022, and they quickly found that Armstrong was likely blending in. "I think from the get-go we were told … you're gonna be in for a surprise 'cause a lot of the women in Santa Teresa look just like Kaitlin -- a lot of them," said Fernandez.

Perez and Fernandez knew that Armstrong was into yoga, so they sent a female operative to a few classes to see if they could spot her. "She actually did, three different classes for us," said Perez. And they tapped into local contacts who reported various possible sightings of Armstrong. But nothing panned out.

The Marshals later discovered why they initially failed to find her in Santa Teresa. Those first few days they were searching for Armstrong, she was not there. Armstrong had gone to San José where she got plastic surgery. The Marshals and Armstrong had just missed each other.

"I mean, talk about odds. …the whole time that we're in Santa Teresa, she's not there," said  Perez.

Kaitlin Armstrong before and after plastic surgery.
Kaitlin Armstrong before,left, and after her plastic surgery. U.S. Marshals/Harris County Sheriff's Office

The Deputy Marshals did not give up and came up with another plan to track her down that finally worked. Armstrong was caught and arrested on June 29. A receipt for cosmetic surgery was discovered at the hostel where she was found. Perez said she had a bandage on her nose when he found her, but it was her eyes that gave her away.

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